Aftermath of the 2007 Tripod Fire in Washington. USDA Forest Service photo by Susan Prichard.
The mixed-severity fire regime of western Oregon forests creates a complex mosaic with patches of low, moderate, and high tree mortality across the landscape. Conversion of old-growth forests to plantations and postfire salvage logging are widespread land uses that dramatically affect forest structure, volume of biomass, and carbon stocks. Few studies, however, have quantified the effect of wood harvest following fires of different severities on biomass, and hence carbon storage, over long time periods.
David Bell, a research forester with the station, and colleagues quantified total aboveground biomass and composition in forest stands following low, moderate, and high severity fires 15 (2002 Apple Fire) and 29 years (1991 Warner Creek Fire) following fire in low elevation, old-growth forests dominated by Douglas-fir. They also sampled postfire responses in forest plantations (harvested prior to fire) and salvage-logged sites (harvested after fire) from the same fires.